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4 reasons why privacy is essential in the modern workplace

We’re all in need of some privacy from time to time. Even as young teenagers, we’d keep parents and siblings out of our bedroom with a big sign on the door that shouted, ‘KEEP OUT’. Fast forward to adulthood, and there are still times when we need privacy – at home and in the workplace.

The lack of private spaces within the modern open-plan office is impacting our personal wellbeing.  Decades ago, office spaces were all about the private offices, with glass partitions where the boss sat and looked out over the minions. But, in an effort to encourage collaboration and openness, many offices are now one large open space, made up of rows of desks. But one key ingredient is missing from the modern office – a space for privacy. 

Ironically, in an age where employee welfare is paramount for productivity, and open-plan, collaborative working is the norm, some of us are not getting enough of this all-important element of working life. 

So, why do we need privacy? 

1.    For confidentiality 

Yes, many tasks require collaboration and communication to get results. Still, in today’s working environment, where security information and personal data are so vulnerable, privacy for confidential work or discussions is paramount.

Most businesses must occasionally deal with sensitive and confidential information, particularly in certain sectors. However, maintaining confidentiality during sensitive conversations or 1:1s in an open office environment can be a challenge.

This was a big issue one of our clients in the transport industry was faced with. We worked with them to install some of our office pods in one of their local offices. When we asked them what the most significant benefits of the office pods were, they told us, “Privacy, space to make calls away from the open-plan area.”

2.    For the ability to recharge

Our perpetual visibility in open-plan offices, where everyone can see and hear everything we do and when we do it, can cause stress and anxiety in some people if there is nowhere to escape, even for a 5-minute rest. This can negatively impact our overall happiness and job satisfaction. 

But in offices that provide private areas, whether for a confidential call, for quiet work or just to sit peacefully, we can find the privacy we need (and avoid having to sit in their car, in the toilet or on a stairway) and take a break from the stresses of constant supervision. Having access to a space where we can have a bit of privacy for a short break, we can recharge and manage our stress levels effectively. 

3.    For concentration

We’re living in the information age where news and information are available 24/7. This has led us all to constantly skim information rather than reading it in any great depth. Psychologists have found that this is affecting our ability to focus, and because of this, our ability to concentrate is suffering. 

Open-plan offices are designed to encourage collaboration, but the need for more privacy in this setting makes it a challenge for employees to focus and concentrate on individual tasks due to noise, constant distractions and visual interruptions. 

More than ever, having the quiet space to focus is vital. Privacy allows us to concentrate on our work, and concentration, reflection and focus are vital components of productivity, which means higher efficiency and better overall performance.

4.    For creativity 

To be at our most creative often involves a certain amount of solitude. We need quiet to brainstorm, think critically, and innovate. 

When we have access to private spaces, we are much more able to focus when needed, and when we can focus, we tend to be more innovative. The creative and deep work, that comes from enabling ourselves to think properly in the optimal environment is fundamental for some tasks, and without it, we can get frustrated and dissatisfied. 

An environment that balances open-plan areas for collaborative work, and private spaces without external disturbances fosters a creative environment for both teamwork and individual work. This, in turn, keeps us more engaged and therefore more effective in our work and our contribution to the business.

Working in an open-plan environment is excellent for collaboration, but when we also have the option for privacy as and when we need it, we have a greater sense of agency, are more able to focus and concentrate, and we are happier as a result.

Everyone has unique work preferences. Some thrive in open, busy environments, while others prefer quiet and seclusion. Respecting these differences and providing a space where ideas can be shared and imagination can be sparked but where privacy is respected ensures an inclusive and supportive workplace. By choosing office pods and booths you can create a supportive, productive, and respectful workplace environment for all. 

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Let us help you find the perfect meeting pod or phone booth – Read our Ultimate Guide to Designing Your Workspace, view the full range of office pods or request a quote.